An internal investigation revealed that a medically fragile 8 year old girl who was killed in the custody by the U.S. Border Patrol last month had a 104.9 degree fever the day before her death, but she still wasn’t taken to hospital.
An internal investigation conducted by Customs and Border Protection revealed that a contracted nurse practitioner refused to review documents and repeatedly denied requests from Anadith Reyes Alvarez’s mother for an ambulance in the hours leading up to the moment the child seemed to have a seizure and then died on the ninth day of her custody.
Anadith was born in Panama of Honduran parents. She and her two siblings entered Brownsville, Texas on May 9, along with their parents. Anadith, who was born in Panama to Honduran parents, entered Brownsville, Texas, with her parents and two siblings on May 9.
The Office of Professional Responsibility of Customs and Border Protection said Thursday that despite her medical history, a nurse practitioner refused to review the documents provided on the day of her death, May 17. No personnel was aware of the chronic conditions she had, according to an first statement after the investigation into her death.
The statement also said that the nurse practitioner reported to having refused three or four requests by the mother of the girl for an ambulance, or to have her child taken to hospital on the same day. Mabel Alvarez had saidrepeatedly denied requests for an ambulance by Anadith.
The internal review so far has focused on “events” and “interactions” that occurred between the time Anadith, her family and the Harlingen U.S. Border Patrol Station arrived on May 14, for medical isolation and the day she and her family were transported to a hospital and died.
Concerns have been raised numerous times
The statement stated that between the time her family arrived on May 14 and the time they left, CBP contracted medical personnel had around nine encounters, during which Anadith complained of flu-like symptoms, pain and fever.
It said that medical personnel prescribed Oseltamivir (marketed under the name Tamiflu) to the girl. The girl’s fever peaked early on May 16 at 104.9° Fahrenheit. They treated it with a combination ice packs, medications to reduce fever and a cold bath.
The statement stated that “despite the girl’s health, her mother’s concerns and the treatment required to manage the condition, the contracted medical personnel failed to transfer her to an hospital for higher level care.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a fever as a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees. If the fever continues to rise above 104 degrees, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
The internal investigation revealed that the contracted medical staff did not consult on-call doctors, including a pediatrician on-call, about the girl’s condition, symptoms, or treatment, and they failed “to document numerous medical encounters, antipyretic emergency interventions, and medication administrations.”
Anadith’s mother, who had repeatedly visited the hospital before 2 pm local time to check on her daughter as she appeared to be having a seizure, only took her to the hospital the following day.
The child was unresponsive and medical personnel called emergency medical services. They also performed CPR with the help of an automated external defibrillator. However, it did not recommend defibrillation.
Anadith died less than one hour after she was admitted to the hospital.
According to the statement, the child was seen four times earlier that day, by a nurse practitioner, after complaining of stomach pain, nausea, and difficulty breathing. The nurse practitioner refused to call an ambulance or take the child to hospital three or four times during this time.
The statement stated that around 10:30 am local time, another medical worker contracted by the family brought documents to the nurse practitioner. However, the nurse refused to examine the papers. The statement did not elaborate on the contents of the documents.
Staff were not aware of chronic conditions
The professional responsibility office reviewed the situation on Thursday and found that “none” of the CBP medical staff or U.S. Border Patrol agents at Harlingen Station, who had interacted with her or her mother acknowledged that she had sickle cell disease or a history of congenital cardiac disease, despite the fact that this information was provided.
In the statement, it was noted that the closed-circuit TV recording system at Harlingen Station did not work during Anadith’s and her family’s time in custody. It also stated that only three medical encounters had been formally documented. The statement said that the update on Thursday was based in large part on interviews with Border Patrol officers and medical professionals who had interacted with Anadith’s family.
An ‘unacceptable tragedy’
Anadith’s family is calling for justice after the death of their 8-year old daughter.
Alvarez , a migrant shelter in McAllen (Texas), told Noticias Telemundo that they could have helped my daughter had they called the ambulance earlier. “My daughter would be still alive.”
Alvarez described Alvarez’s daughter as “a friendly, loving” girl, who was always thinking of others and hoped one day to help children with the same health problems.
Troy Miller, the acting commissioner of CBP, said in a statement released Thursday that Anadith’s death was “a deeply upsetting and unacceptable tragedy”.
He said that CBP has taken numerous steps in the days following the incident to address the issues identified during the investigation. This includes directing an assessment of all medically vulnerable individuals and their families currently in custody in order to prioritise their processing and reduce the time they are in custody.
He said that through these efforts the average length of time spent in custody by family units has been reduced from two weeks ago, to today.
He said, “We will do everything we can to prevent this from happening again.”